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New Mexico national monuments to remain intact

The Associated Press
December 05, 2017 10:28 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The boundaries of New Mexico's two national monuments that were under review will remain intact, but Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says modifications will be made to protect the long-standing culture of grazing and to ensure hunters and anglers don't lose access.

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Zinke said Tuesday his decision to keep Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and the Rio Grande Del Norte national monuments the same size followed discussions with the governor, the state's congressional delegation, ranchers and conservationists.

In a conference call with reporters, Zinke said the administration was comfortable with the New Mexico monuments and wanted to ensure they could be actively managed in perpetuity.

Monument supporters argue that issues related to public access and concerns about border security in southern New Mexico were addressed in the original proclamations.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. released this statement on the issue:

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte help drive New Mexico’s outdoor recreation and tourism economy; they sustain hundreds good jobs, and they are part of what makes our state a wonderful place to visit and live. I will continue reviewing this report carefully, but Senator Heinrich and I identified a number of errors in Secretary Zinke’s draft report in September — which were based on hearsay and bad data — and it appears that he’s still relying on that wrong information. While Secretary Zinke has assured me that he doesn’t plan major changes, the question of New Mexico’s monuments is now in President Trump’s hands. Until we see what the president will sign, this fight is not over, and New Mexicans should keep calling and writing and making their voices heard.

 The president doesn’t have the legal authority to unilaterally revoke or shrink the boundaries. And when it comes to decisions about the future of public lands, Americans deserve an open and above-board approach – not the sham process the Trump administration has used to try to justify loosening protections. President Trump and Secretary Zinke withheld information from Congress and the public, declined public meetings about their plans, made recommendations in secret, announced part of their decision, and — only then — released a report attempting to legitimize their conclusions. New Mexicans, and the American people were right to be suspicious of the administration’s motives. And after President Trump’s proclamation drastically cutting and re-shaping Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, New Mexicans and the American people are right to be outraged.

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The Associated Press

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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